Author's Note: Thanks so much, guys. :) Hope you had as much fun as I did! I wish you all cake and strawberries.

VII. Epilogue: Excellent Cake

L—the moniker had taken some getting used to, but Light was growing progressively fonder of it as he went along—extended his hand towards the doorbell and then lowered it.

"I am having second thoughts, Light-kun," he announced.

"We're standing on the doorstep," Light reminded him. "It's too late for second thoughts."

L's thumb rose to his lips. "How about third thoughts?" he asked. "Is it too late for those?"

"Yes," Light replied. Entirely unnecessarily given its per-custom wildness, he ruffled L's hair. "Don't worry; she'll love you."

L didn't look convinced. "How can you be so sure?"

Light reached for the doorbell and pushed it. "Because you are, at least ostensibly, helpless and socially-crippled. She's a sucker for stuff like that."

As the echoes of the doorbell's cheerful chirruping rang through the foyer, L glanced at him, mildly scandalized.

"Was that meant to be some sort of backhanded compliment, Light-kun?" he inquired.

Light grinned. "Of course not," he replied. "It was a perfectly front-handed compliment."

Before L had time to work up a proper glare through his bangs, the door opened to reveal Light's mother in all her glowing, hostess-ready glory.

Sachiko Yagami literally clapped her hands. "You must be Ryuzaki," she concluded gleefully. "Come in; come in; come in; Light said you love cake; is white with strawberries all right?"

"That sounds wonderful, Yagami-san," L murmured, shuffling in obediently before Light had to resort to prodding his lower back. "Strawberries are my favorite."

Light was well-aware of that. In fact, he'd lost count of the times he'd used little plastic containers of them as bribes. In further fact, it had taken three of them to convince L to come and have dinner with his family on this particular evening.

When they moved into the dining room, Sayu and his father were already seated—as he'd recommended that they should be to avoid as much awkwardness as possible—and the food was on the table.

"Are we late?" L asked, slightly startled.

"No, no," Light's mother sang. "We're just… ready…"

L looked to Light, a volume's worth of Are they really that desperate to stop you from being single? in the amused quirk of his eyebrow.

Light shrugged, trying not to grin.

His strategy (for of course there was a strategy; this was him, after all) was to lure his raven-haired maverick into a sense of security—and to enforce, gently but unremittingly, that that security was genuine. That this house was a home, and that it was a home open to any heart that wanted to settle in it. That Light's life and family both had space and warmth enough to hold another mastermind.

"So you're a detective?" Sayu piped up almost before L had managed to sit down—certainly before he'd had time to gather his knees to his chest and wrap an arm around them, the other hand free to wield his fork.

"I am," L confirmed. "I've been working with Light-kun and your father to apprehend Kira for a while now."

"That's so exciting!" Sayu enthused, eyes glowing. "Have you made any progress? Are you close? Do you think you'll get 'im?"

L shot Light a bemused look. "Some; I suppose; and I certainly hope so," he answered patiently.

Light got the feeling that L was, one way or another, accustomed to inquisitive children.

Then again, the man had had some practice putting up with him, too.

"So what's it like?" Sayu prompted eagerly. "What do you do as a detective?"

L considered the question. "I eat a lot of cake," he decided.

Light's father raised his eyebrows at his daughter. "Why don't you ask Ryuzaki about something other than his work?" he inquired.

Sayu flashed a luminous grin. "Well, his personal life involves Light, his private life is private, and if he's working on the Kira case, his public life probably isn't much to speak of. So really, that's all there is to ask."

Gray eyes dancing, L turned to Light. "I thought you said that you were smarter than your sister, Light-kun," he noted blithely.

Sayu beamed.

The night breathed over Light's face, cool and playful, as they skipped down the steps and started back towards the car. Light couldn't help but smile.

"Well?" he prompted. "What do you think?"

L gave it a moment. "That was excellent cake," he declared at last.

Light disheveled his hair again. "I meant about my family, L."

A mischievous smile toyed with lips he would have claimed right then if he hadn't wanted an answer first. "Ah, them," L remarked idly. "Well, I believe it is fair to say that, as none of them attempted to deter me from my madness, they must at the least be resigned to me."

"Better," Light informed him. "Sayu took me aside just before we were leaving to tell me that you're almost as cool as Misa Misa."

L's eyes widened considerably. "I should hate for Amane-san to feel that she has been supplanted," he murmured.

Light laughed and caught L's hand, thrilling even now at the curl of the familiar fingers around his. "Well, what are we going to do with the rest of the evening?" he inquired, feeling as though his heart would swell enough to break through his ribcage any second now. "The night's barely started."

L raised his hand to touch it to his lips, taking Light's with him. He blinked at his unprotesting captive audience with perfect innocence.

"I can think of a few things," he announced.

Light liked the sound of that.